Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Amber x Luna – Lower

come back f(x) wlu


Micha Cavaseno: f(x) may have been one of the strangest of the more beloved girl groups in K-Pop, mostly because their most valuable members (Amber, Sulli) were the ones who offered the least value in conventional vocal performances (Amber rapped and therefore isn’t upheld as the best vocalist, whereas Sulli hit like 2 notes on a good day). Since then the solo careers spawning from the group’s dismantling have been a weird sea of critical praise for lifeless generic dance pop from unremarkable vocalists (take your pick), or Amber being an intensely adorable dork with just a… truly Amber-like run of poor career choices . “Lower” here unfortunately feels more like the former category, with the production by Ferry Corsten really phoning in the most run of the mill attempts at modern house, and a scrapped together dance hook that feels like imitation Calvin Harris quite a couple years too late. It’s another frustrating reminder that someone with a lot of versatility is being treated so reductively, for the sake of technically suitable but relatively unremarkable talents.

Ryo Miyauchi: It’s nice to hear Amber in a non-rapping role, nailing the same deftness as her group mates in a sultry deep house track. The beat works less in favor for Luna, who cools off into a voice too passive especially coming off the glow of “Free Somebody.” While “Lower” is a better collaboration than “Heartbeat,” there’s still a better middle point for these two.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: The f(x) girls can truly dominate over house beats, whether it’s by rapping with a Migos flow over some dark garage beat, or going full piano house diva mode, so it should come as no surprise that this whole number is executed almost perfectly. I just really wanted that chord change in the pre-chorus to lead to its conclusion (F) instead of going back to the root (C). Sometimes restraint is the best option, but this wasn’t it. 

Thomas Inskeep: 2/5 of f(x) sing a duet over what sounds like an Above & Beyond cast-off. They can, and should, do better.

Alfred Soto: The balancing of wist and the exigencies of modern dance resolve themselves in a powerful break at the two-minute mark, where it not for the return of Amber x Luna to give us another tour of their love-damaged hearts exposed on the dance floor.

Iain Mew: I appreciate this as a sexy song that gets across both an energetic urgency and a sense of being immersed in the moment. Often there’s a lot more of one than the other, and this feels different and right.

Edward Okulicz: This walks a tightrope of tension with the delicate “lower, lower, slower slower” prechorus before the beats blast the tentativeness away for the carnal pleasures of beats and bass. Such a light touch too — 100% heat but 0% humidity.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Luna kicks off another year with a collaborative single that serves to hold over fans who anxiously await f(x)’s return. “Lower” aims to be the sultry counterpart to Amber and Luna’s previous tracks, trading in bright, anthemic EDM for nocturnal, club-friendly house. Their seductive coos (“You’re so deep babe”, “In your dream babe”, “Let me in”) clue us into this, but they unfortunately contribute to the flattening of their personalities. The moody instrumental passage that follows doesn’t tie everything together either: it tries to hold tension but deflates all momentum instead. As evidenced by Jonghyun’s “Rewind” (the first postYaeji K-pop song?), SM’s attempts at dance music crossovers are constantly expanding, and they’re now comfortable with a song’s instrumentation doing nearly all the heavy lifting. I’m not sure it’s doing enough, though; they want to go “Lower” but I’m not sure I’m down/다운.

Reader average: [8.33] (3 votes)

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